AFC West Rewind: Broncos Costly Win

Photo: Chris Humphreys USA TODAY

After two weekends of the 2013 NFL season, the AFC West appears to be a two-tiered team race. At the top, the Chiefs and Broncos are tied for the division lead with the Raiders and Chargers just one game back. So how do they rank heading into week three of the young NFL season?

1. Denver Broncos - The most recent chapter of the ‘Manning Bowl' found the Denver Broncos in enemy territory facing a New York Giants team reeling after their opening season loss at Dallas. On this day, Peyton Manning, had the better of younger brother, Eli Manning.

The Broncos looked sharp in the second half pulling away from the Giants and winning 41-23. The older Manning threw the ball 43 times, added a couple more touchdowns to his 2013 resume and showed he's still the games best quarterback.

But what should be concerning to the rest of the division is the Broncos were able to run the ball on Sunday, something they failed to do in their season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.

Running Back, Knowshon Mareno, scored a pair of lengthy rushing touchdowns and should he keep that up the remainder of the year, the Broncos will have a nice one two punch offensively. However, before we anoint the Broncos as the division champs, the win was very costly.

All Pro left tackle Ryan Clady injured his foot and he's going to miss somewhere between significant time and the rest of the season with a Lisfranc sprain. The Broncos who were solid in their run offense on Sunday but they can sustain their entire offensive arsenal if Clady is out the remainder of the year? In fact, since he covers Manning's backside as well, it could cause Denver to become human offensively.

And that might be the saving grace for the rest of the AFC West.

Next Up vs. Oakland (Mon.)

2. Kansas City Chiefs - In the most recent NFL power rankings; the Chiefs have made a pretty big jump from the opening bell. Before they defeated the Dallas Cowboys 17-16 on Sunday, they were a middle of the pack team. Now they appear to be one that has the potential to crack the top ten before the end of the month.

Head Coach Andy Reid has delivered the goods in Kansas City. He's managing to win game and simultaneously teach his players what it takes to blow out a team one week and what it takes to beat them by the narrowest of margins the next.

Though this team has a scant few days to get ready for the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, this is a big game for the Chiefs. It's an even bigger game for their head coach.

I'm not shocked the Chiefs stand 2-0 on the season but I will be if they start the season 3-0. To date, Reid has been able to mask some of the issues on offense. Primarily Kansas City hasn't been able to run the ball. All Pro Running Back, Jamaal Charles, must be on track Thursday if Kansas City wants to prevent Eagles Quarterback, Michael Vick from getting on the field.

The other issue is KC's soft play of their interior offensive line. It's something Reid must fix and it may require making some personnel changes after the Eagles game. Right now teams are having their way up the middle and if the winning is going to continue someone or something has to change it.
Still the Chiefs are one of the best stories in 2013 and perhaps they can win at Philly in a couple of days. If they do, then we're going to have a lot to talk about in the ten days before the New York Giants visit Arrowhead.

Next up @ Philadelphia Eagles (Thurs.)

3. San Diego Chargers - If Quarterback, Phillip Rivers is indeed back, the AFC West could get very dicey in the months of November and December. Granted his three-touchdown performance came against the Eagles was a bit tainted. Philly may have the worst pass defense in the NFL. Ok let me say it. They do!

On numerous occasions, Rivers had wide open receivers that didn't have an Eagle defender within ten yards of his target. But despite the fact the Chargers defense isn't all that good either, they did manage to win 33-30.

The Chargers are the division's enigma. It's clear they have talent but for them to sustain long-term success, they can't expect to play in shootouts every weekend. However, they can be a scary team to face and they are certainly one to be watched in the coming weeks.

Next Up @Tennessee Titans

4. Oakland Raiders - For the record, the Raiders did give up a touchdown to the Jaguars in their 19-9 home opening victory. But the victory was sealed thanks to the left foot of kicker, Sebtastian Janikowski, who posted 13 points on the scoreboard.

The Raiders still have plenty of issues to resolve in 2013 but if they run the ball well enough and Quarterback, Terrelle Pryor can play mistake free offense, Oakland will win games against lesser opponents.

Now they don't have the talent to play with the games elite teams. But like the rest of the AFC West members, the division in itself has little substance and much fluff standing in their path this season.

But before we anoint them with the glass is half full versus half empty label, everyone must understand the Raiders 2013 season is going to be littered with ma multitude of ups and downs. So much so, the Raiders could surprise a few of the big boys on their remaining schedule. But equally likely, they could stink it up against the lower rung NFL teams too.

Next Up @ Denver Broncos (Mon.)

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